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About the Field

The African History program at UCSB seeks to cultivate in students a profound knowledge of the history of the African continent, informed by a deep time spatiotemporal purview but with a strong research focus on the social and cultural histories of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Scholarship on Africa has grown dynamically over the last few decades, turning out masses of literature and novel methodologies. In fact, some of the most robust debates and exciting scholarship are taking place in African history. We therefore train our students to engage with the vast library of available material and to grapple with these emerging, critical theoretical approaches.

Prospective students should contact the faculty member whose research interests most closely resemble their own prior to applying.

Core Faculty

Mhoze Chikowero researches on Southern Africa with interests in state making, colonialism, nationalism and self-liberation, cultural history, urban history, indigenous and colonial archives, media (song, radio, newspapers) and technology.

Stephan Miescher’s research focuses on West Africa with interests in gender and sexualities, colonialism, modernity and development, technology and the environment, oral history and archives.

Taylor M. Moore

Butch Ware‘s research centers on the relationship between Islamic knowledge practices and struggles for social justice in Africa and the Diaspora. He also directs the Initiative for the Study of Race, Religion, & Revolution (ISRRAR) an interdisciplinary endeavor bringing together academics, religious scholars, artists, and activists, to explore the relationship between spirituality and social change.

Other History Faculty Connected to this Field:

Utathya Chattopadhyaya

Evelyne Laurent-Perrault

Adam Sabra

Sherene Seikaly

Salim Yaqub


Peter Bloom, Film and Media Studies

Graduate Students:

Christabel Agyeiwaa

Claudia Ankrah

Anthony Greco

Raymok Ketema

Ryan Minor

Jefferson Ndimande

Mattie Webb

Kwabena Agyare Yeboah

Graduate Courses in the field include:

  • African Civilizations
  • Comparative Colonialism
  • African Nationalism and Self-Liberation
  • Gender and Sexualities in Africa
  • Development in Africa
  • Subaltern Studies: Africa and Beyond
  • Critical Studies of the (Post-)Colonial Archive
  • Methodologies and Practices of Oral History
  • Environmental Histories of Africa

Graduate students take their core seminars within the Africa field but are also encouraged to both craft independent readings seminars and to take courses in other fields and outside the department. In addition, students may pursue a Ph.D. Emphasis in another department, such as Black Studies, Feminist Studies, or Global Studies. Students will learn at least one African language before they can conduct their fieldwork.

The African History faculty and students are involved in running the African Studies Research Focus Group (RFG), which facilitates a program for local and visiting speakers, seminars, film screenings, performances and other events connected with Africa. The RFG is primarily sponsored by the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center (IHC):

Our Alumni/ae:

  • Bianca Murillo (Ph.D. 2009), Assistant Professor, Willamette University, Oregon
  • Jean P. Smith (Ph.D. 2013), Lecturer King’s College, London
  • Sarah Watkins (Ph.D. 2014), Associate Academic Designer (AP, Humanities), McGraw-Hill; Founder and Editor, Racoona Editing
  • Veronica Ehrenreich (Ph.D. 2016), Lecturer, California State University, Sacramento
  • Ross Melczer (Ph.D. 2019)
  • Ryan Minor (Ph.D. 2021), Lecturer, Westmont College